Don’t become a victim of fraud or scams during the coronavirus lockdown or beyond
It’s important that you remain vigilant and guard against criminals using publicity around coronavirus as a chance to target you with fraudulent emails, phone calls, text messages, social media posts and even physical visits to your home.
Criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police. They spend hours researching you for their scams, hoping you will let your guard down for just a moment. Plus, people may be more vulnerable now without their usual support network around them meaning they might make the wrong decision when they may have previously asked for advice. Stop and think. Don’t rush or panic into making a decision that you could later regret: it could protect you and your money.
In this blog we will highlight a few of the ways that criminals are currently attacking us through fraud and scams.
If you receive a phone call offering you protective face masks, hand sanitiser, testing kits or medicine etc, be aware that they may not always be genuine. Don’t be afraid to refuse, reject or ignore their request. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
Criminals are also experts at impersonating suppliers like Wi-Fi providers and threatening disconnection unless a fee is paid. With large numbers of people now working from home, this is causing people to panic and feel pressured into making rash decisions. If you do receive a call like this then hang up immediately and call your Wi-Fi provider back on a confirmed phone number and preferably from another phone. If you don’t have another phone to call from, wait a few minutes before calling.
Never click on links or download attachments as criminals may infect your devices with malware or ask you to enter your personal or financial information into fake websites. In some cases this can lead to your identity being stolen.
If you receive an email, text or WhatsApp message which seems to be from the government, HMRC, the World Health Organisation (WHO) or a coronavirus-related charity, then take a moment to think before you part with your money or information.
With many businesses closed at the moment, it has never been more important to check all requests received by email to make urgent or immediate payments or amend bank details, to confirm they are genuine before processing them.
With many businesses moving to home remote working, criminals are even impersonating CEOs or IT departments asking employees to move funds and send banking information or security information. If you receive a text message purporting to be from your manager or someone senior, take a moment to think before you part with your business’s money or information. Make sure requests are legitimate and consult with colleagues before you take action.
Many businesses may find themselves under financial pressure during the coronavirus lockdown. Offers of financial assistance that arrive by email unexpectedly may seem like a lifeline but always remember to take a moment to think. It may be fake.
If you believe you’ve fallen for a financial scam, contact your bank immediately on a number you know to be correct, such as the one listed on a statement, their website or on the back of your debit or credit card.
You should always exercise caution when accepting help from an individual or allowing them access to your home in any capacity. You should only accept assistance or take visits from people well-known to you, or who you know have been sent by a government body or reputable organisation. If you are in any doubt about someone’s identity, you should take steps to verify it – by directly contacting the organisation they claim to be from using a number you know to be genuine.
There are currently no cures or vaccines for Covid-19 at this time and medical or health professionals will not come to your home unannounced and without prior notification.
If anyone attempts to force or coerce you into handing over funds – in person or otherwise – always contact the police.
With world markets currently under immense pressure, the chance to move your money to new investments with unusually high returns may sound like too good an opportunity to miss. Proceed with caution and make sure you check the Financial Conduct Authority’s register for regulated firms, individuals and bodies. It could be fraud or a scam if you’re being pressurised to act quickly. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
With fake news articles on the internet and in the press promoting remedies, cures and false advice around coronavirus, it’s also important to only share articles from trustworthy sources.
If you are in any doubt, then visit the following websites for updates and information:
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